A current trend in global health research papers and commentaries is for authors to conclude with a call for a “multisectoral approach.” These calls have increased in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals with its emphasis on policy coherence and collaboration across sectors for reaching national and global targets.

Indeed, many of the determinants of health lie outside of the health sector, and collaboration with sectors such as transport, energy, housing, education, agriculture, water, and others is essential for improving health. But what do we know about how stakeholders in different sectors can best work together, given the many barriers to effective and sustained action?

While there have been myriad attempts to implement multisectoral approaches for health, in many different settings, the literature on the how of multisectoral implementation remains limited. These papers detailing 10 case studies are the exception, and provide valuable information about what works, and what does not, in working across sectors to improve health.

Bhalla K, Bump JB, Frost L, Glassman A, McQueston K, Pratt BA, Pierre Louis AM, Harman N, Meiro-Lorenzo M (2014). Building the Foundation for Healthy Societies: Influencing Multisectoral Action for Health. Phase One, Volume II: Case Studies on Multisectoral Action. Washington, DC: World Bank.

  • This World Bank knowledge product provides four case studies on multisectoral action for health: road safety in Argentina, conditional cash transfers in Latin America, multisectoral HIV/AIDS responses, and tobacco tax reform in the Philippines. The cases highlight constraints to working effectively and mechanisms for addressing them.

Chandra-Mouli V, Gibbs S, Badiani R, Quinhas F, Svanemyr J (2015). Programa Geração Biz, Mozambique: how did this adolescent health initiative grow from a pilot to a national programme, and what did it achieve? Reproductive Health. 12:12.

  • This paper discusses the nationwide scale up of a multisectoral initiative, Programa Geração Biz, to improve the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents in Mozambique. This initiative involved the Ministries of Health, Education, and Youth & Sports, with technical support from Pathfinder and UNFPA.

Cole DC, Levin C, Loechl C, Thiele G, Grant F, Girard AW, Sindi K, Low J (2016). Planning an integrated agriculture and health program and designing its evaluation: Experience from Western Kenya. Evaluation and Program Planning. 56: 11-22.

  • This paper describes the program development process and evaluation design of the multisectoral MAMA SASHA project for health, nutrition, and agriculture in Western Kenya. This project was undertaken by the International Potato Center and PATH with the ministries of health and agriculture, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Garrett J, Natalicchio M (eds). 2011. Working Multisectorally in Nutrition: Principles, Practices and Case Studies. Washington, DC: IFPRI.

  • This IFPRI book provides lessons for engaging in a multisectoral approach for the improvement of nutrition. It presents case studies of two multisectoral efforts: the Nutrition Enhancement Program in Senegal and the Food and Nutrition Improvement Plan of Antioquia, Colombia.

Lencucha R, Drope J, Chavez JJ (2015). Whole-of-government approaches to NCDs: the case of the Philippines Interagency Committee—Tobacco. Health Policy and Planning. 30 (7): 844-52.

  • This paper is a case study of the interagency mechanism in the Philippines to govern tobacco control and provides lessons learned for multisectoral approaches to NCDs.

 Puvanachandra P, Kulanthayan S, Hyder AA. (2012). A game of Chinese whispers in Malaysia: contextual analysis of child road safety education. Qualitative Health Research. 22 (11): 1476-85.

  • This paper describes the Malaysian government’s initiative to implement road safety education programs in primary schools, involving the Ministries of Education, Transport, and Health.